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Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will allow a homosexual group to march in the 2015 event for the first time in the parade’s 100-plus year history.

The parade’s organizers, the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, voted 5-4 on December 15 to allow the group OutVets to join the parade next March 15. The council had previously withstood the push to allow homosexual groups, even prevailing in a 1995 U.S. Supreme Court decision protecting its right to refuse groups promoting homosexuality.

OutVets, which acts for veterans identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, has been cleared to carry a blue sign with five white stars denoting the branches of the military and six vertical rainbow stripes.

“We're marching as veterans who happen to be gay,” said Bryan Bishop, OutVets founder, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and chief of staff in the Boston Veteran’s Services agency.

Brian Mahoney, the commander of the veteran’s council, told the AP the homosexual group is being allowed to take part because of its members' military service, and that sexual orientation did not factor into the vote. 

“The parade is meant to honor veterans and Irish-American heritage, and OutVets met the criteria,” Mahoney said. “It was a group of vets who wanted to march and we said, 'Yeah.'”

The homosexual group participated in the Boston Veterans Day Parade last month for the first time.

OutVets’ Bishop told AP he was “ecstatic” about the St. Patrick’s parade vote and agreed that it was based primarily on veteran status.

Earlier this year the council had struck a deal with the homosexual lobby group MassEquality to allow its affiliate LGBT Veteran’s for Equality to march in the 2014 parade.

But the veteran’s council later rescinded the invitation, saying the homosexual group had submitted an application that “was a ploy by them to enter this parade under false pretenses.” The council had agreed that veterans should be allowed to march regardless of their sexual orientation but maintained its policy of not allowing groups to march promoting homosexuality. When retracting the LGBT Veterans for Equality’s invitation, the council said the homosexual group applied for 20 marchers to take part, only one of which was actually a veteran, and the rest of the marchers assembling for the purpose of carrying pro-homosexual signs.

During the time the invitation for the LGBT group was in place for the 2014 parade, the entrant with the event’s iconic float featuring St. Patrick blessing the crowd, a Catholic school, withdrew from the parade, citing the Church’s teaching.

“We must stand firm with the Church which states in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, promulgated by Pope John Paul II, that “homosexual acts are acts of grave depravity” and “are intrinsically disordered,” said Brother Dalton, principal of Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Harvard.

Immaculate Heart of Mary opted to participate again once the homosexual activist group’s invitation was canceled.

Pro-homosexual groups have been pressuring Boston parade organizers since at least 1991, with state courts ordering the veteran’s council to allow homosexual groups in 1992 and 1993. Organizers canceled the parade in 1994 in favor of complying with the order a third time. The ruling ordering inclusion of pro-homosexual groups was overturned the following year by the Supreme Court.

Parade official Philip Wuschke Jr. argues that the council’s vote was illegal because they lacked a quorum.

“I'm sending a letter to the commander saying he held an illegal meeting and an illegal vote,” Wuschke said. “He did not follow the bylaws of the council.”

Mahoney challenged this, stating he felt safe in saying the vote was legal.

Pro-family organization MassResistance is reporting that something was amiss with the vote as well. Wuschke told the group the meeting and subsequent vote was an outrageous effort to manipulate the vote and exclude the clear wishes of the majority of the committee.  

The meeting was initially scheduled for Tuesday, December 16, but four to five days ahead of time it was abruptly moved to Monday the 15th, and the mailed notice of the change only made it to some of the council members, according to Wuschke. Further, members were not informed that the vote on OUTVETS would be happening at that meeting.

Wuschke told MassResistance that he knows of at least five absent members who would have come and voted categorically against allowing the homosexual group, had they known.

Wuschke said as well that the 5-4 vote was not legal because only nine members were present, and an official quorum requires 12 members. Furthermore, said Wuschke, the bylaws precisely ban any group from marching that identifies itself by its sexuality, or carries signs or banners that do so.

MassResistance reported that committee resignations and parade cancellations are beginning to take place in the wake of the vote.

The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts condemned it as well, saying in a statement, “This was an illegal vote, at a meeting without a quorum, conducted by a suborned minority, subservient to outside political interests, who deliberately failed to notify the Council majority of the measure to be acted upon. No one, of course, should be surprised by such tactics, given the manifest contempt homosexual groups and their political enablers have always shown towards the democratic process.”

The Boston decision comes on the heels of the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade yielding to pro-homosexual pressure this past fall, when the New York parade committee voted to allow homosexual groups to march with identifying signs.

That decision was widely criticized as well by Catholics upset with the deviation from the holiday’s origin in Catholic tradition. New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan also drew criticism after he welcomed the decision and agreed to remain as grand marshal.